The Ides Of March – Watch Out For The Traps !

by National Life Master Loal Davis



There were two VERY FAMOUS chess players with birthdays in the month of March.


Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch (5 March 1862 – 17 February 1934)


Robert Fischer (March 9, 1943 – January 17, 2008)


There are a few “Traps” associated with each of these profound players – that you should be aware of.


Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch


In the Ruy Lopez (Spanish Game) there is a big trap that was first discovered and executed multiple times by Tarrasch.  Today it is known appropriately as the “Tarrasch Trap”.  It was so “subtle” that few if any saw the pit, as Black’s moves seemed so “reasonable”.   Even after it’s first execution against the first World Champion challenger, three years later it caught another “fish” in the form of one of England’s top players.  Here are those two games.


[Event “DSB-05.Kongress”]
[Site “Frankfurt”]
[Date “1887.08.01”]
[Round “20”]
[White “Tarrasch, Siegbert”]
[Black “Zukertort, Johannes Hermann”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 a6 6. Ba4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6

The Tarrasch Defense

Yes – Dr. Tarrasch later became a strong advocate of this Open Defense named after him; not with the blunder that happens a mere three moves later.

9. c3 Be7 10. Re1 O-O 11. Nd4 Qd7 ?

The Blunder / Trap  –  White To Play & Win

12. Nxe6 ! fxe6

Of course there is Pin against the Queen regardless of how Black chooses to recapture.  Pawn capture, Queen against Queen; Queen capture, Bishop against Queen.

13. Rxe4 Bc5 14. Be3 Bxe3 15. Rxe3 Rf5 16. Bc2 Rf7 17. Nd2 1-0


[Event “Manchester”]
[Site “Manchester ENG”]
[Date “1890.08.27”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Siegbert Tarrasch”]
[Black “Isidor Gunsberg”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 a6 6. Ba4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. c3 Be7 10. Re1 O-O 11. Nd4 Qd7 12. Nxe6 fxe6 13. Rxe4 1-0

Final Position



Robert Fischer


In the following game a former U.S. Champion is wiped out with a trap/variation that was well known by Fischer.  Bobby was a mere 15 years old for this game.


[Event “USA-ch”]
[Site “New York”]
[Date “1958”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Fischer, Robert James”]
[Black “Reshevsky, Samuel Herman”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Bc4 O-O 8. Bb3 Na5 ?

The Blunder / Trap  –  White To Play & Win

9. e5 ! Ne8 10. Bxf7+ Kxf7

Capturing with Rook leads to the same crushing rejoinder.

11. Ne6 !

Black’s Queen is dust.  Reshevsky attempts to elongate the game to hide/bury his embarrassment at losing such a short game.

dxe6 12. Qxd8 Nc6 13. Qd2 Bxe5 14. O-O Nd6 15. Bf4 Nc4 16. Qe2 Bxf4 17. Qxc4 Kg7 18. Ne4 Bc7 19. Nc5 Rf6 20. c3 e5 21. Rad1 Nd8 22. Nd7 Rc6 23. Qh4 Re6 24. Nc5 Rf6 25. Ne4 Rf4 26. Qxe7+ Rf7 27. Qa3 Nc6 28. Nd6 Bxd6 29. Rxd6 Bf5 30. b4 Rff8 31. b5 Nd8 32. Rd5 Nf7 33. Rc5 a6 34. b6 Be4 35. Re1 Bc6 36. Rxc6 bxc6 37. b7 Rab8 38. Qxa6 Nd8 39. Rb1 Rf7 40. h3 Rfxb7 41. Rxb7+ Rxb7 42. Qa8 1-0

Final Position


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